Elephant sanctuary volunteering in Thailand
Work closely with rescued Asian elephants in this inspiring elephant sanctuary in Thailand. Liberated from lives begging in the streets of Bangkok, these elephants have now found a home in the beautiful and sprawling grounds of this sanctuary. Helping with their feeding, care and bathing, you’ll be actively contributing to improving their lives and welfare.
Also on site is a remarkable wildlife sanctuary, home to sun bears, monkeys, gibbons, macaques and much more. If you would like to lend a helping hand with these other mistreated and amazing animals, we can arrange for at least a week of your time to be spent helping with the other wildlife too.
Help provide a home to rescued elephants
Become an important member of the team at a growing elephant sanctuary in Thailand, currently home to 21 rescued elephants. In their previous lives these elephants were forced to beg on the streets of Bangkok and perform for tourists in facilities around the country. In their new lives, they live in 20 hectares of greenery and sanctuary, being carefully looked after by the team of animal welfare experts supported by volunteers.
Elephants in Thailand have had a tough time of it. Historically they were taken from the wild, domesticated, and forced to work in the logging industry. Over the years this industry focused more and more on machines, leaving elephants redundant and their owners with a large debt. To make money, owners took their elephants to the streets to beg and perform for money – a practice which is illegal. This project aims to provide a safe haven for these elephants – 15 have been rescued so far, with many more needing help and protection in the coming years.
What will I be doing?
As an elephant volunteer in Thailand, you will have lots of time with these gentle giants, although you will also be immersed in other elephant care tasks. With so many hungry mouths to feed, there is a lot of emphasis on harvesting grasses and feeding the elephants. Ellies need to eat about 5% of their body weight in food each day, so be prepared for lots of harvesting! This is the first time that the elephants will have enjoyed foods that are wholly natural to them, and their health has blossomed since their arrival.
Due to the grazing nature of elephants, it is important that they are able to roam and explore further afield from the sanctuary. Volunteers help with walking the elephants, keeping a close eye on them and ensuring that they don’t eat anything that they shouldn’t! This is a real highlight as you are working closely with the elephant mahouts, learning more about the elephants and their behaviour.
Other aspects that are involved can be helping with any maintenance tasks around the sanctuary, such as painting, building and making enrichments. There may also be the opportunity to help prepare the elephant’s bathing sites. This is a great way to work hands on with these gentle giants and to make a genuine contribution to improving their welfare. The elephants have large pools in which they can bathe, but they also enjoy the attention from volunteers hosing them down and giving them a good scrub down. Prepare to get mucky!
Accommodation and Food
The accommodation is at the heart of the sanctuary, where you will fall asleep to the calls of the birds, the trumpeting of the elephants and the chattering of the monkeys. You will share comfortable and basic rooms with other volunteers.
Your meals are provided on site with a delicious hot buffet for your lunch and dinner, and a large continental breakfast selection.
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Make a valuable contribution to an important elephant rehabilitation project.
- Get hands-on as you volunteer with one of the world’s most beloved animals.
- Walk with the elephants through the forest, experiencing their freedom and enjoying it with them.
- Work alongside experienced animal welfare experts, and learn about the complexities of elephant conservation in a developing country.
- Get the opportunity to work with up to 400 other animals too – an amazing and varied experience!
- Enjoy the beach on days off, and explore the local night markets.
Whyshould I do this?
The elephants living here have had a challenging time prior to their rescue. There are many other elephants who are still victims of human cruelty that need to be rescued, and the work of the volunteers will enable this to become a reality. Volunteering closely with these elephants is an absolute delight – as they each have their own personality, you will find that you get to know each of these gentle giants individually.
You will fly in to Bangkok (BKK) where you will be collected and taken to the sanctuary. Please make sure that your flight arrives before 14.00 on a Sunday for your airport collection. The drive can take up to three hours travelling south of Bangkok onto the Malay Peninsula. Particularly the last section of the drive is beautiful, through small communities and green fields and forests.
Edwin was born in the Netherlands, and spent the earlier part of his life in the army. Following his army career he worked in Thailand and became increasingly involved in animal welfare. Concerned by some of the practices he saw, he founded the centre to provide a home for displaced and abused animals. Edwin has lived in Thailand for almost 30, speaks fluent Thai (amongst other languages) and is fully embedded into the Thai culture.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Pre-departure briefing covering medical and safety features
- Help and advice 24/7 from our UK office
- Visa advice (which will vary depending on length of stay)
- Met personally at Bangkok airport and taken to the project
- Full induction on arrival
- Clean, convenient accommodation on site
- Three meals a day, which includes home-cooked hot Thai food twice a day
- A practical and theoretical education on the challenges facing animal conservation
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A full passport valid for a minimum of 6 months after your return date
- Flights to Bangkok (Oyster can help you to organise these)
- Insurance covering your project time and any planned independent travel, we can introduce you to a policy
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to
- Cost of a hotel in Bangkok if arriving too late for the transfer (before 14.00)
- Independent travel costs and return to the airport
- Any additional costs such as trips, snacks, entertainment (allow maybe £30 per week depending on lifestyle)
- No visa is necessary for under 30 days from UK and most western European countries. Advice given on longer stays.
- You must have your diphtheria, tetanus and polio – without these you will not be allowed to work on the project